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Udall, Bennet Secure Funding in Appropriations Bill Draft that Can Benefit Arkansas Valley Conduit

Mark Udall's Senate Member Office (D-CO) posted a Press Release on July 24, 2014 | 5:34 pm - Original Item - Comments (View)

The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee released a draft energy and water funding bill today that includes an additional $90 million to support water infrastructure projects nationwide such as the Arkansas Valley Conduit, in part at the request of Colorado U.S. Senators Mark Udall and Michael Bennet. The senators have repeatedly urged the committee to support more resources for the programs, most recently sending a letter to the committee in March outlining the critical need for more resources for the project.

The committee also included a provision that explicitly makes data collection and design work eligible for funding through these accounts. It will help ensure the Arkansas Valley Conduit is eligible for these funds and send a clear signal to the Bureau of Reclamation that the conduit is a priority project.

'I have been proud to work for years to ensure the federal government supports the Arkansas Valley Conduit. This funding brings the people of southeastern Colorado one step closer to having a clean, safe and reliable source of water,' Udall said. 'I will continue to fight to ensure the full U.S. Senate supports this critical project — and all efforts in Colorado to smartly develop and conserve our water.'

'For more than five decades, folks in southeastern Colorado have been waiting for the federal government to fulfill its promise to build the Arkansas Valley Conduit. That's far too long for these communities to wait for a reliable source of clean drinking water,' Bennet said. 'Thanks to the hard work of the Appropriations Committee, this bill includes significant resources that could help get the conduit closer to construction. We’ll continue to work with the committee and the administration to ensure this project gets the funding it needs.'

Last month, Udall and Bennet met with Deputy Interior Secretary Mike Connor, the acting commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation, and top officials from the Office of Management and Budget to press the administration on the urgent need for more resources for the conduit in FY 2015 and the coming years to accelerate the progress toward construction.

Udall and Bennet have led efforts to secure resources and move forward with the construction of the conduit. In addition to advocating for quick approval of the project's environmental study, the senators have written to the Department of Interior and the Appropriations Committees to provide adequate resources for construction of the conduit in future federal budgets.

The Arkansas Valley Conduit is the final component of the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project, a water diversion and storage project in the lower Arkansas Valley. Once constructed, the conduit will deliver clean drinking water to families, producers and municipalities throughout Southeastern Colorado. Udall and Bennet worked together to enact legislation in 2009 authorizing the construction of the conduit, and have pushed ever since for funding to keep the project on schedule.

Udall Presses VA Secretary Nominee on Need to Keep Faith with Colorado Veterans, Resolve Backlogs, Address Delays at Aurora Medical Center

Mark Udall's Senate Member Office (D-CO) posted a Press Release on July 24, 2014 | 5:01 pm - Original Item - Comments (View)

Mark Udall, who serves on the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee, pressed U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Nominee Robert McDonald to work with him to resolve the systemic issues at the agency, restore veterans' faith in the VA and commit to resolving the problems that have plagued the construction of the new Aurora VA medical center. Udall said he plans to support McDonald's nomination based on their conversation and the nominee's commitment to working to resolve issues of critical importance to Colorado veterans.

'Based on my discussion with Mr. McDonald, I believe he is the right person to address the systemic problems that have shaken Colorado veterans' confidence in the VA. We discussed the need to promptly address the delays in the construction of the Aurora VA medical center, improve communication between the VA and veterans, and speed up claims processing so Colorado veterans have timely access to the services they've earned. I also invited Mr. McDonald to visit our state as soon as possible to meet with Colorado veterans and VA employees to hear their concerns firsthand,' Udall said. 'Mr. McDonald will bring to bear his executive experience and service as an Army Ranger to tackle the mismanagement and systemic problems that have been identified at VA facilities across the country, including Colorado. I look forward to working with him to restore our veterans' trust in the VA and ensure our heroes receive access to the high-quality services they have earned.'

McDonald is a West Point graduate and former U.S. Army captain who recently retired as the CEO of Procter and Gamble.

Udall has led efforts to resolve the systemic mismanagement at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and its facilities throughout the country. Udall also was the first Democratic senator to call on former VA Secretary Eric Shinseki to step down following a preliminary report issued by the VA inspector general that outlined the systemic failures at the department. Earlier, Udall had pressed Shinseki to aggressively address the problems identified at VA facilities in Colorado and across the nation and to swiftly address the agency's lack of strong, public leadership.

Udall successfully worked to ensure Western Slope veterans had ready access to essential surgical procedures for which they previously had to travel long distances, he pressed the VA Inspector General to investigate employee complaints at the Grand Junction Medical Center, and he has led on congressional oversight of the Aurora VA medical center.

Congressman Bachus Speaks on Student Financial Literacy Awareness

Spencer Bachus's House Member Office (R-AL-06) posted a Video on July 24, 2014 | 4:40 pm - Original Item - Comments (View)
Congressman Bachus speaks in favor of amendment to promote college student use of the Commission on Financial Literacy and Education Commission's MyMoney.gov website. The commission was...
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2014-07-24 4:22 pm

Marion Berry's House Member Office (D-AR-01) posted a Blog Post on July 24, 2014 | 4:22 pm - Original Item - Comments (View)

The "80/20 Rule" Is Saving Americans a Lot of Money. But What Exactly Is It?

Barack Obama's White House Presidential Office (D) posted a Blog Post on July 24, 2014 | 3:39 pm - Original Item - Comments (View)

Chances are you’ve heard of the Affordable Care Act – President Obama’s landmark health reform law that’s holding insurance companies accountable, lowering health care costs, giving Americans more freedom and control in their health care choices, and improving the quality of care.

One part of the act that you may not be as familiar with, however, is the “80/20 rule” – also known as the Medical Loss Ratio (MLR) rule – which went into effect in 2011.

The rule generally requires health insurance companies in the individual and small group markets to spend at least 80% of the premium dollars they collect on medical care or activities to improve health care quality. And that increases to 85% for insurance companies in the large group market.

Today, the Department of Health and Human Services released some new numbers showing just how much this rule has saved consumers over the last few years.

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Udall Pledges to Ensure BLM, Firefighters Have All Federal Resources They Need to Fight Alkali Fire in Northwest Colorado

Mark Udall's Senate Member Office (D-CO) posted a Press Release on July 24, 2014 | 3:36 pm - Original Item - Comments (View)

Mark Udall, who has led the fight to ensure Colorado communities have the tools they need to prevent, prepare for and fight wildfires, issued the following statement on the Alkali Fire in Moffat County:

'The Alkali Fire's rapid growth is concerning, and my thoughts go out to all those who have already been affected by this wildfire as well as the brave firefighters and smoke jumpers battling this blaze. I will work with the Bureau of Land Management and other federal agencies to ensure Moffat County has every resource it needs to protect Coloradans' homes and lives — as well as nearby natural gas facilities.'

Udall, who serves on the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, has been the leading voice in the U.S. Senate for finding innovative, job-creating ways to improve forest health and reduce wildfire risks. Udall successfully pressed the U.S. Forest Service to augment its air tanker fleet ahead of the 2014 wildfire season. He also has introduced bipartisan legislation to allow the Federal Emergency Management Agency to proactively work with states and localities on wildfire mitigation projects.

Message to the Congress -- Amendment Between the United States and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

Barack Obama's White House Presidential Office (D) posted a Press Release on July 24, 2014 | 2:49 pm - Original Item - Comments (View)

TO THE CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES:

I am pleased to transmit to the Congress, pursuant to section 123 d. of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as amended, the text of an amendment (the "Amendment") to the Agreement Between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland for Cooperation on the Uses of Atomic Energy for Mutual Defense Purposes of July 3, 1958, as amended (the "1958 Agreement").  I am also pleased to transmit my written approval, authorization, and determination concerning the Amendment.  The joint unclassified letter submitted to me by the Secretaries of Defense and Energy providing a summary position on the unclassified portions of the Amendment is also enclosed. The joint classified letter and classified portions of the Amendment are being transmitted separately via appropriate channels.

The Amendment extends for 10 years (until December 31, 2024), provisions of the 1958 Agreement that permit the transfer between the United States and the United Kingdom of classified information concerning atomic weapons; nuclear technology and controlled nuclear information; material and equipment for the development of defense plans; training of personnel; evaluation of potential enemy capability; development of delivery systems; and the research, development, and design of military reactors.  Additional revisions to portions of the Amendment and Annexes have been made to ensure consistency with current United States and United Kingdom policies and practice regarding nuclear threat reduction, naval nuclear propulsion, and personnel security.

In my judgment, the Amendment meets all statutory requirements.  The United Kingdom intends to continue to maintain viable nuclear forces into the foreseeable future. Based on our previous close cooperation, and the fact that the United Kingdom continues to commit its nuclear forces to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, I have concluded it is in the United States national interest to continue to assist the United Kingdom in maintaining a credible nuclear deterrent.

I have approved the Amendment, authorized its execution, and urge that the Congress give it favorable consideration.

BARACK OBAMA

Congressman Bachus Discusses Budget, Entitlement Reform at Committee Hearing

Spencer Bachus's House Member Office (R-AL-06) posted a Video on July 24, 2014 | 2:44 pm - Original Item - Comments (View)
At Judiciary Committee hearing on balanced budget proposals, Congressman Bachus discusses need for reforms to entitlement programs like Social Security Disability with a witness, Dr. David...
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What Are "Inversions," and Why Should You Care?

Barack Obama's White House Presidential Office (D) posted a Blog Post on July 24, 2014 | 2:43 pm - Original Item - Comments (View)

Today, President Obama is heading to Los Angeles Trade Technical College, where he's calling for a kind of "economic patriotism" that's based on investing in the things that we know grow the economy for everyone (like education and job training) — not protecting wasteful loopholes for a few at the top.

And he's calling attention to one kind of corporate merger deal in particular — called an "inversion" — a word you might be seeing in a lot of news headlines lately.

It's not the most intuitive name for a corporate tax loophole, so we're going to break it down for you.

Q: So what exactly is an "inversion"?

A corporate "inversion" is what happens when a U.S.-based multinational with operations in other countries restructures itself so that the U.S. "parent" is replaced by a foreign corporation — and usually one that's in a country with a lower tax rate than the United States. As a result, on the whole, this means that corporate income tax that would otherwise be paid to the United States ends up going overseas.

In other words, right now, our tax code allows any American company to merge with a foreign company (so long as that company’s shareholders own 20% of the combined firm) — and then “relocate” or “invert” to another country for tax purposes. This maneuver — which changes nothing about the actual operations that continue in the U.S. — allows companies to dramatically reduce the taxes they owe in the U.S. by taking advantage of loopholes in our tax system.

Meanwhile, they would continue enjoying the benefits and protections of the American economy — provided by our tax dollars. It's a big loophole — and right now, it’s completely legal.

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Should a religious exemption permit businesses to deny women coverage for contraceptives in health insurance plans?

Adam Schiff's House Member Office (D-CA-29) posted a Newsletter on July 24, 2014 | 2:32 pm - Original Item - Comments (View)
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